ALTHOUGH the current "Gallery One" show at the Corcoran features only two artists, it looks and feels like a group exhibition. Washington's Greg Hannan and Sabina Ott of Los Angeles paint as though there were no tomorrow and they've already forgotten who they were yesterday.
Hannan paints on old materials such as discarded signboards and sheets of weathered plywood found on the beach. Sometimes surface and subject come together with terrific force, as in "Russian Garden" (1990), which evokes a desolate and hopeless landscape where the dream of the proletarian revolution has withered and died. It's a surrealist masterpiece, brilliant in both conception and execution, a work that's clearly a classic although the paint is barely dry.
It seems unlikely that some of the other Hannan paintings could have come from the same hand. "Devil's Purse" (1988), a rendering of a skate egg case, is the sort of painting one might expect to find in a rented beach house; "Becky's Dracula" (1988) is the sort of bleeding-heart kitsch one might expect not to find in a major art museum.
Ott is another dreamscapist with a similarly strange ability to rivet and repel. Her "Portrait (Narcissus)" and "Portrait (Narcissus II)" (both 1989) are huge, irresistibly ambiguous oval canvases. They suggest both the mythical pool in which Narcissus gazed upon his reflection while loving Echo faded away, and the veil that memory uses to soften and reshape the past. One stands before them feeling pangs of nostalgia for things that never existed.
But then Ott breaks the spell with her "Disappearance and Return" series, of which the main recognizable elements are black roses and pretentiousness.